14 When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. 15 He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.21 But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. 22 For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!” 23 Then they began to ask one another which one of them it could be who would do this.
Only powerful Roman Caesars or conquering Generals were given victory parades. The disciples had experienced the amazing entry of Jesus humbly riding a young donkey into Jerusalem greeted like a king. Imagine you are among the large crowds that swelled Jerusalem to celebrate Passover cheering Jesus, crying out “Hosanna,” meaning, “please save us,” waving palms, and laying your garments over the dusty road. The Roman occupiers and authorities grew concerned at this mob supporting Jesus, who criticized the leaders for not loving God and neighbor.
The disciples must have felt on top of the world, that somehow Jesus as the Messiah would reclaim Jerusalem from their enemies. Now they are together, away from the crowds, in the upper room, sharing a Passover meal together. A meal that symbolizes the freeing of Israel from slavery in Egypt. Imagine you are there, as Jesus serves them, showing them how to be servant leaders. In the quiet of the room Jesus is talking to them about giving his body for them, pouring out his blood for them, the creation of the new covenant to free them from sin, the fulfillment of God’s plan and the coming of the kingdom of God. In broken bread and shared cup Jesus is asking them to remember this moment, and to keep doing this, to remember, that Jesus died for us.
Suddenly, Jesus isn’t talking about victory, but betrayal. Worse, it’s one of them, sitting at the table and they begin to suspect each other, asking each other, “Who would do this, who would betray Jesus? Is it you?”
At first, the disciples didn’t understand why Jesus asked them to keep doing this to remember him. Then, when Jesus was no longer among them, it all made sense. When we share the Lord’s supper together, as a faith community, we remember that Jesus suffered and died for us, to save us from our sins. We come to communion to confess our sins, and we receive God’s forgiveness. Together we experience God’s love and receive God’s grace to live a new life in Christ. We offer ourselves and our gifts to God to serve others, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit to follow Jesus.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
John Wesley said this about communion, “This is the food of our soul: this gives us strength to perform our duty, and leads us on to perfection.” And so as Jesus asked us, we keep doing this, to remember him.
This Holy Week make time to remember that Jesus suffered and died for our sins, and join with your church in communion. Confess your sins and receive God’s love and grace, and the strength of the Holy Spirit to live a new life in Christ.
Prayer: Holy and Loving God, we give you thanks for the love and grace you have poured out through the sacrifice of your son Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. We remember, and we will keep doing this until Christ comes again and we feast together at the heavenly banquet. Amen.